Develop and Manage Your Board Development

How do you develop your existing Board of Directors?

Your organization must form and maintain a resourceful and productive Board of Directors to continue growing.  

Establish board members’ time, interest and financial commitments before they join the board, keeping in mind that many lead busy lives and have many professional responsibilities.  Give potential board members a position description outlining responsibilities, to make sure it’s a good fit.  (See “Creating a Board of Directors,” for more information.) 

The nominating committee of your Board of Directors should meet periodically throughout the year to search for potential board members, not just prior to the annual meeting where new members are elected. 

Your organization must have a diverse Board of Directors to represent those you serve and gain broader recognition in your community.  Consider this list of characteristics to make sure your organization has diverse representation on the board:

  • expertise: legal, fiscal, personnel management, etc. 
  • age
  • gender
  • race
  • religion
  • background: corporate, government or previous experience with nonprofits 
  • client population: representatives of the client population served

How do you keep a good Board of Directors?

Require all new board members to participate in an orientation session before they attend their first meeting.  At or before the orientation session, give them:

□    Board of Directors Position Description
□    Articles of Incorporation
□    Bylaws
□    Funding applications
□    Personnel, fiscal and other board policies
□    Annual reports
□    Names, contact and background information of other board members and key staff
□    List of committees and committee duties
□    Minutes of the last several board meetings
□    Audits, budgets and recent financial statements

During the board orientation, new board members should be able to:

□    ask questions of the board president and executive director 
□    tour the facility and staff offices
□    watch programming in action
□    get an update of current issues 
□    review board member responsibilities

Other tips to encourage productivity from the board: 

  • Give specific projects to members
  • Keep board meetings on task and timely
  • Replace unproductive board members quickly
  • Thank board members for their work
  • Consider hosting a half-day or full-day board retreat off-site
  • Establish a policy that stipulates board dismissal for a certain number of unexcused absences from meetings.
  • Re-elect only the board members who have met their responsibilities. 
  • Contact inactive board members to confirm their interest in serving

Grobman, Gary M. The Nonprofit Handbook. Third Edition.

A Board Member Evaluation Checklist 
A Board of Directors Position Description